Following a previous blog post on songs about “home”, we’re covering all mediums and now spanning into films. Here are some cinematic gems where the houses are the real stars.
Home Alone 2 (1992)
Within his sterling film-making career, John Hughes was either making films that spoke about the realities of a generation or inspired that generation to see the magic in everyday life. Home Alone is a great example of the latter. Not only was it set against a whimsical Christmas backdrop, but Kevin’s uncle’s New York apartment depicted every kid’s dream fort. With its nooks, crannies and genius booby traps, the apartment is sure to make you relive your childhood fantasies for autonomy and mischief.
Video courtesy of “Home Alone”(1992) Chris Columbus
The People Under the Stairs (1991)
Despite its young cast, dark humour and cheesy special effects, this film is not for the faint hearted! With some genuinely creepy moments, combined with crass language and comical violence, this film tells the story of a young boy who gets caught in the house of two deranged serial killers. He must navigate through the walls and trap doors built to capture and hold trespassers; Many of whom are young children missing from the neighbourhood, and kept, you guessed it, under the stairs.
I’ve seen this film nearly 20 times and it never gets old. This stop-motion masterpiece tells the story of Coraline, a young tween forced to uproot with her family to a new home. Her parent’s fail to attend to her struggles to assimilate, leaving her to spend time with her neighbours; Two old ladies who were once stage divas and a drunk Russian man who trains circus mice (great parenting right there). When she mysteriously discovers a small door that takes her to a parallel universe of her own home (but more fun), she befriends her “other” mom who has sinister motives. Try to get your hands on a DVD copy that shows how the film was painstakingly made. You will be blown away!
When a Connecticut couple discovers that they are “recently deceased” and tied to their family home for the next 125 years, they try to scare away the new occupants in order to haunt the location in peace. When nothing seems to work, they enlist the help of a demonic no-gooder named Beetlejuice with catastrophic results. As is common amongst all of Tim Burton’s masterpieces, be prepared for an eye-gasmic feast of stripes, monochrome and truly bizarre interior decorating. This is Burton at his best!
Image courtesy of “Beetlejuice” (1988) Tim Burton
Life as a House (2001)
A heartbreaking yet uplifting story about a man with cancer who aims to renovate his newly inherited home before his death. Brought into the mix are his estranged son and ex-wife who upon starting the project, rekindle their relationships, only to be struck back down to earth when the truth is revealed. A raw tale depicting the difficulties of family life, with a stellar performance from Kevin Kline that will bring you to tears.
Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
An oldie but a goodie. A European family emigrating to New Guinea gets caught in a storm, causing their ship to wreck upon an uninhabited island. In order to survive, they build stunning treehouses and begin living peacefully, until a castaway shows up with a band of pirates after her. Though the sets are highly unrealistic, being built in glamourous old Hollywood style, the pure ingenuity of the island homes will leave you inspired to build outdoor structures of your own.
Nothing But Trouble (1991)
Chevy Chase plays his signature smart-alec character typecast in this comedy adventure. The story centres around a financier and lawyer (portrayed by the beautiful Demi Moore), who are held captive in an isolated house where the deranged homeowners aim to punish them for not heeding to a stop sign. You soon find that they take on the roles of judge, jury and executioner of their local jurisdiction. The couple must escape this madhouse, avoiding its infinite mazes and snares. Check out the young Tupac cameo below.
Image courtesy of “Nothing But Trouble” (1991) Dan Aykroyd
Disney’s beautiful coming of age tale of an aged man. When Mr Frederickson attaches millions of balloons to his home in order to avoid its demolition, his floating abode travels to South America, where he and a young boy scout stowaway must trek through the jungle in order to return to civilisation. Plenty of lessons are learned along the way, with tears and heartbreaking scenes of old people dying in the mix. Clearly a film for kids.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
This film is the guilty pleasure of every female under the sun (in general). When a divorcée moves to Italy on a whim and buys a dilapidated villa, she begins renovations that parallel her inner transformation from directionless recluse to empowered goddess. While the story line is somewhat predictable, the scenes of the villa’s transformation, juxtaposed with the friendships and memories she cultivates within its walls are sure to inspire you to recreate such moment in your own home. The beautiful Italian backdrop doesn’t hurt either.
Grey Gardens (2009)
Part documentary, part dramatic reimagining, Grey Gardens tells the story of a real-life mother and daughter socialite duo (related to Jackie Kennedy) whose glory days, much like their fortunes, have since dissipated. They live a reclusive existence in a decrepit mansion that has fallen into great disrepair, the daughter harbouring dreams of becoming a Hollywood star, while her mother cares for the many cats and racoons (you read right), what live amongst the squalor. Barrymore excels in her role, playing the eccentric Edith Beale with ease, while the film as a whole will leave you wanting to scrub every crevice of your house.
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